Two French soldiers killed in clashes near Kabul

Two French soldiers in Afghanistan were killed in fighting Monday, while three more were wounded. France's death toll from the campaign now stands at 47.


AFP - Two French soldiers were killed and three more were wounded in fighting in Afghanistan on Monday, President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said, bringing France's death toll from the campaign to 47.

The dead were an officer and a soldier from the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment, fatally wounded by small arms fire during an overnight operation south of Tagab, 55 kilometres (34 miles) northeast of Kabul.

They were identified by the defence ministry as Lieutenant Lorenzo Mezzasalma, 43 a married father of two, and Corporal Jean-Nicolas Panezyck, 25, who was single.

"These soldiers gave their lives in the service of France's commitment to the peace and security of the Afghan people," Sarkozy said in a statement, condemning "murderous attacks" on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Most of France's 3,500 soldiers inside Afghanistan are based in districts around Kabul in the east of the country, where they are part of a NATO-led multinational force fighting the Taliban.

Three of the French troops were evacuated after being wounded by insurgents and later the two others were "mortally wounded during a new exchange of shots while their unit was disengaging," said army spokesman Thierry Burkhard.

NATO also on Monday announced the deaths of two other soldiers in the force, identifying one as American. Hungary identified the other as Hungarian.

The four deaths reported on Monday brought to 455 the total number of NATO troops killed in Afghanistan this year.

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